Movie and film are two terms which many of us tend to use interchangeably but in many different ways. When used literally, they both describe a moving picture, usually a series of moving images projected on a large screen in order that spectators see an actual illusion of moving motion. So when we say “the movie is running”, we are referring to the movement of the movie itself, not to any particular character or situation on the screen. The two can also be used more loosely, to describe any and all motion – from a single frame shot to any scene on a movie set. While it’s clear that movie and film are distinct forms of entertainment, their differences go deeper than their usage of words.
Unlike spoken language, movies and films rarely use colloquialisms or native expressions which give subtle yet significant meaning. The language of film is, thus, much less closely tied to its context than are words and sentences in spoken language. This, of course, lends them a tendency to be much less familiar than written text.
The reason for this lack of connection between spoken language and film is that they rely almost entirely on visual means of communication. When we speak, we express ideas and thoughts by using our hands or our voices, whereas motion pictures convey ideas and concepts much more readily by means of facial expressions, movement, and expressions only. The implication is that visual and verbal communication is much more important than is written word. As such, the connotation of movie and film is much more subjective than is the connotation of spoken language. Yet while movie is certainly a visual medium, the two words are also often used as a single term, with movie referring loosely to any type of moving picture and any scene in a film.
For instance, many people might talk about the upcoming movie Finding Nemo as a film stock. This would certainly be a mistake, as finding Nemo is a film stock shot from a number of talented artists. A true film stock shot is a carefully chosen image taken from a masterful portfolio of moving images.
Another example of a loose term is the term Hollywood touch. Used by critics and in conversation among film industry insiders, this term identifies any scene which was picked up for reuse or used in another context outside of the cinema. In many cases, these reuses occur within independent films which have no relation to the cinema industry or are meant to serve as a stand-alone piece. However, in a number of movies produced by major studios and directed by blockbuster stars, the term Hollywood touch regularly refers to a scene that was removed for the purposes of making the film more entertaining for audiences.
One final example of Hollywood touch is the term scroll. A scroll is a single frame that appears in the background of a movie showing motion, usually showing a character’s actions on the screen. The term was popularized by the silent films, which featured early camera work that was cut away before speech was heard. However, today, movies that utilize this technique are considered to be genre gimmicks rather than genuine film stock. Today, if you want to take a scroll out of a scene in a movie, you simply have a friend who is an expert in film magic take a picture of the scene and then copy it onto a blank scroll.